Sapper Eagles assigned to 326th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), trained July 29 to fight and win at their upcoming deployment to the Joint Readiness Training Center-Fort Polk, Louisiana, by conducting mine clearing line charge operations to clear obstacles at Demo Range 39.
Bastogne Brigade Soldiers are training at multiple training areas to prepare themselves for their training mission at JRTC. Every battalion is conducting live-fire operations to make training as realistic as possible to better prepare themselves for real-world operations.
The Sapper Eagles are no different and have enabled every maneuver element within the brigade.
MICLIC training is a key enabler and vital to Bastogne Brigade operations because this system clears a path through extremely hazardous terrain, such as a minefield, and allows vehicles to continue moving on the battlefield and Soldiers the freedom to maneuver to destroy the enemy.
“This is our reducing asset to provide mobility and reduce obstacles to get the main effort in place to seize key terrain,” said Sgt. 1st Class Eugene Duranseau, company first sergeant, B Co., 326th BEB, after throwing a few smoke grenades to provide cover and concealment.
Within seconds vehicles sped toward the obstacle, fired the MICLIC and obliterated the obstacle in a huge cloud of smoke that saturated the area. Engineers quickly hopped out of their vehicles with cones, signs and flags marking the specific area where friendly forces could drive through to reach their destination safely.
“The MICLIC shoots a rocket-assisted C4 charge to clear a minefield and allow follow on forces to move through the breach area for follow on missions,” said Staff Sgt. Thomas Kitson, breach squad leader, B Co., 326th BEB. “For any type of breach, you will be exposed to enemy fire and you want to limit your exposure. We’ve been averaging about six to 10 minutes from our covered and concealed position. Speed is very important but so is accuracy during this situation. It’s hard to pick anyone out but Sgt. Abrams controls the ground elements as they’re going out marking the lane. He’s essential in showing the follow-on forces where they can travel safely.”
Sergeant Warren Abrams, team leader, B Co., 326th BEB. is a part of Kitson’s breach squad. Not only is he integral to clearly marking a path for Bastogne Brigade Soldiers to move through but the MICLIC would not have functioned and operated properly without his team’s hard work and attention to detail while providing maintenance to the system.
Abrams and his team spent weeks doing maintenance on the MICLIC system to achieve perfect operational success at the range. Yet, the most impressive aspect is that his team is new with only two weeks of experience and they executed marking operations flawlessly.
“I have a team of two privates right now,” he said. “They’ve never done it before and learned it in two weeks. They are going just as fast at night as they are during the day. This is important because speed is key, but the safety of my Soldiers is more important. The only cover they have out there is the truck ahead of them. I could be out here barking commands, but I don’t need to. They are so good now they know exactly what to do.”
One of the Soldiers on Abram’s team is Pfc. Deandra Wilson, combat engineer, B Co., 326th BEB, who spent all of her life in Montego Bay, Jamaica, before joining the Army.
“I joined the Army to become a combat engineer and started training to mark lanes last week,” Wilson said. “We started training in the motor pool and practicing how to do it and now we’re out here doing it for real.”
Jokingly, Wilson said she has gotten faster and no longer trips on debris and rough terrain.
“Speed is key,” Wilson said. “If they’re shooting at me, I’m going to go.”
During JRTC or a real-world mission, the Soldiers of Bastogne will have a clear path to conduct operations because the Sapper Eagles will destroy every obstacle in their path.